A friend — we’ll call her “Casey” — came to me for advice recently. Casey’s a writer too, with a nice deal writing a nightlife column for a local alternative weekly, in addition to her other work writing celebrity news for local and national magazines.
Casey knows that to keep her site Google-friendly and to build her platform as a writer, she needs to keep up her blog. That constant stream of content gives the search engines plenty of keywords to chew on, and gives her potential clients and fans a quick taste of her work, too.
The problem is, she didn’t know what to write. As an up-and-coming writer struggling to make a living with her words, she can’t afford to give away stories on her blog that she could get paid for elsewhere. But what, then, could she post that would demonstrate her abilities and make her blog worth reading?
People can get so caught up in doing things a certain way. It’s important to remember that there are many methods of doing things. And as freelancers, it’s equally as vital to be kind when explaining your school of thought. After all, you represent your business now, so it’s imperative to stay professional.
Whether you use a specific program to develop websites, or you like to use a certain format when writing a document, there is likely more than one way to do it. I find many freelancers like to discuss the different strategies they use to work—but some can be a little too gruff and pushy when promoting their method. Others can get very defensive when someone offers a different suggestion.
I know that some of you are going to get grumpy when I tell you that working for free can be good for your personal and professional development. But bear with me for a few minutes, and then you can return to your grumpiness.
Here are six reasons why you’d want to do pro bono work for non-profit organizations:
1. You’re just starting out as a freelancer and your portfolio is empty.
I mean, that portfolio is so empty, there’s an echo in there. The good news is that there are plenty of non-profits that need your professional touch. They may have a website that needs redesigning. Or they need your computer programming skills to build a better membership database. Or their brochure could use better written copy.
… well, no promises (you can’t always expect straight talk from a cartoonist). We’re coming up on Freelance Freedom #100 and we have some cool stuff planned to celebrate, none of which you get to hear about until we actually publish Freelance Freedom #100. Except, that is, for the chance for our readership to collectively interview N.C. Winters about any unshakable questions you’ve had regarding the strip, N.C.’s art, process, or even first name. (No, I don’t know what it is.)
Pose your question in the comments below. Depending on volume, we may not be able to answer everyone, but it can’t hurt to pitch yours in.
I receive all kinds of suggestions for new Tuts+ sites, but none have been quite so numerous as the requests for us to launch a Flash tutorials site. And with good reason: we cover Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and web development, so why not Adobe Flash?
Today we’re pleased to introduce the newest member of the Tuts+ family: Flashtuts+
Go on, open a new tab, check it out, leave a comment, then keep reading to learn more about our plans for the site.
Outsourcing has been on my mind a lot: I’ve had to turn down a couple of projects lately that I just didn’t have time to do. I keep thinking that if I could have outsourced at least part of those projects, I could have gotten them done — and gotten the paychecks that went along with them.
The idea of outsourcing is pretty attractive on the surface. If you work with another freelancer in your field — perhaps one with a little less experience — you can take on at least a few more projects than you might manage to otherwise. If you work with freelancers in other fields, you can take on bigger projects: a web designer, for instance, might take on the whole development of a website (including the content) and subcontract the writing to a freelancer who specializes in web copy.
As long as you’re the freelancer who went out looking for the project and arranged to bring in other freelancers, you get paid. Even if you only get a small slice of the pie on a project where someone else does the lion’s share of the work, you still get paid.
Photo by Noël Zia Lee.
Since freelancers tend to spend long hours hunched in front of a computer, it makes sense that many of them have also congregated on Twitter. Think of it as a virtual watercolor where you can chat about new projects, catch up on industry news, or just take a quick break. Some freelancers are also using the microblogging platform to find new clients and promote their business.
For those who are new to Twitter or just need some new follows, we’ve rounded up 50 users who often tweet about freelance-related topics. Not surprisingly, writers are very well represented on Twitter, but we’ve also uncovered some designers, developers, and other freelance folks. Obviously, there are many more than 50 freelancers on Twitter, so feel to leave your username in the comments.
Photo by willnixverbergen.
Early in my career I overlooked the value of networking and keeping in contact with people. A few years after my first job change I had lost the contact information and even forgotten the names of many of my peers that I didn’t work with on a daily basis.
After starting my own company I became acutely aware of the power of keeping in contact with people when I got a call out of the blue from a past co-worker that turned into over $200,000 of business for my company.
Here are some of the techniques I use to keep in contact with people:
Photo by CarrotCreative.
While I love the social aspects of Twitter, I also love the simple platform for self-promotion—especially for authors.
That’s why I’m also using the power of 140 characters or less to help promote my books, Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes and Creatively Self-Employed. Here are some tips to help you do the same for your book.
Make Nice With Your Competitors
It may sound counter-active, but teaming up with authors who have written books similar to yours is a great way to network and stay on top of what they’re doing—and what’s going on in your book niche industry that you may have missed. Many of the authors I know who have written career books take time to research statistics, for example. Because I don’t do that too much, I find their tweets (and blog posts) very valuable.
Photo by Wrote.
In a way, most freelancers have it lucky. I know several in their sixties who are still happily working — and even one graphic designer in his seventies who moonlights teaching Photoshop. Despite being able to easily work long after the age commonly associated with retirement, though, most freelancers don’t intend to spend their golden years at their computer. That means that at least some basic retirement planning is necessary: even if you’ve been paying into Social Security for years now, it’s not going to cover your full cost of retiring.